Expat jobs in Ukraine do not differ much from the work you’d likely find at home. Once upon a time, before the 2014 Maidan Revolution, Ukraine was a destination for highly qualified expats. This is because the currency was much stronger than it is today. During this time, it was easy for Western professionals to command salaries well over USD 100,000. Currently, they’ll be lucky to reach half of that thanks to a combination of the weakened currency and a more qualified local workforce.
That’s not to say that all opportunity has left Ukraine. Depending on your goal, it’s quite the opposite. You can use your knowledge of another market as well as your native language skills to work your way into a new industry or career path.
In this guide, you will find everything you need to get started on your job search in Ukraine. There is also supplementary information on expat salaries, where to network, and how to find work.
Benefits of Working in Ukraine
There are plenty of benefits to working one of the numerous, common expat jobs in Ukraine. Working in a country such as Ukraine gives you access to opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise have in terms of career paths, personal growth, and networking.
Regarding career paths, you can transition with limited experience for certain types of work. For example, sales, marketing, editing, and technical writing are all fields that you can enter regardless of your experience or background. The limited number of English speakers in this part of the world makes this possible. If Ukrainian companies want to expand to the international market, they need proficient – even native speakers to help them with marketing, sales, etc.
In my case, I turned my experience as a Data Analyst in the United States into a position as a User Experience Writer at a large, recognizable IT company. I did this by demonstrating my ability to learn and write.
Moving to personal growth, you have the opportunity to learn a new language, culture, and way of life. This isn’t something to overlook as a benefit. Especially in the increasingly global world in which we live. Employers view this experience as highly favorable if, or when, you decide to return to your home country.
On top of that, as an expat, you can network with more influential people than you might have access to in your home country. Whether that means politicians, lawyers, or business owners. Be sure to use your time in Ukraine to expand your network.
Types of Expat Jobs in Ukraine
As I touched on in the previous section, the types of expat jobs in Ukraine that are available tend to have a couple of things in common. Generally, they revolve around your language skills and knowledge of the international market.
Currently, the most promising industries in Ukraine for expats are the IT, and the agricultural industries. In 2019, the IT industry grew more than 30% and now accounts for 5% of Ukraine’s total GDP. The majority of the services offered are general outsourcing, however, this is slowly changing to a more value-add approach.
Concerning the IT industry, there are plenty of startups and established companies alike that need high-quality English speakers. In this industry you should be able to find jobs in sales and marketing, copywriting, technical writing, or, if you are experienced – some level of management. If you’re an experienced developer, you may even be able to land a senior or lead role at one of the local companies. As you will see later in this article, this can be very lucrative.
As for the agricultural sector, it too has seen major growth in recent years. With the recent influx of international investment as well as the International Monetary Fund, I don’t see this trend slowing any time soon.
With that said, the number of jobs available to expats in this industry is significantly smaller. If you have extensive experience, you may be able to get an upper management position with one of the large agricultural firms such as Bunge, The Mironivsky Hliboproduct, or Kernel. Additionally, if you have an interest in this sector specifically, your best bet would be to work in international sales and marketing.
In many cases, the first job that most expats get when they move to Ukraine is teaching English. Teaching English in Ukraine, while not the most lucrative job, lends itself well to networking. As a native speaking English teacher you’re generally able to take on jobs with a higher salary or charge your private clients a higher rate. Being able to charge a higher rate generally brings interesting clients.
As you’d expect, salaries differ for expat jobs in Ukraine. Since this is the case, we will take a look at some common jobs, and how much you can expect to make at various career levels. As the majority of expats will be moving to Kyiv, I will focus on salaries there. Outside of Kyiv, salaries will be lower by around 20-30%.
Teaching English in Ukraine is one of the most common jobs for new expats. Salaries for beginners teaching average students start at around USD 800. Once you get more experience you can expect to earn upwards of USD 1200. If you are a highly qualified teacher, you may earn USD 2000+ as a corporate English teacher.
Entry-level sales and marketing salaries for native English or German speakers tend to start at a similar level as teaching. That is, you can expect to earn USD 800 as an entry-level copywriter, content marketer, or in international sales. If you have extensive experience, you can do quite well in Ukraine by local standards. For skilled marketers and sales professionals, you can earn USD 5000+ per month.
The next category of workers I would consider highly qualified. These are your CEO, President and Vice President level employees. Generally, if a company needs a foreigner to fill these positions, they will approach locally managed executive search firms. They won’t be posted on typical job boards. Salaries will be very lucrative, and range from USD 10,000 – USD 50,000+ per month. This, of course, depends on the industry, and size of the company.
Next, I’d like to talk about the IT industry. Specifically, programmers. In Ukraine, these workers carry a higher level of prestige than doctors. Salaries start at USD 1000 for new graduate developers and extend to USD 5000+ for senior-level positions at top companies. Generally, these positions will only hire locals. Even with salaries 10-20x the average wage, Ukraine also faces a shortage of qualified programmers.
Other IT-related salaries that are accessible to expats include technical writing. Here you can expect to earn between USD 1500-3000.
Visa Options for Working in Ukraine
For most expats, a work permit is required to work legally in Ukraine. Now, if you look at the law, technically anyone can get a work permit. The only restriction is that the salary must be at least 10 times the legal minimum wage. As of 2020, the minimum wage in Ukraine is UAH 4723, or around USD 170.
However, there are preferred categories. They include IT professionals, owners that are employed by their own company, holders of degrees from a university in the top 100 list, creative professionals who hold copyrights, and highly paid professionals.
In addition to this list, employees of NGOs, charity organizations and educational institutions must have a minimum salary at least 5 times the minimum wage.
It is important to note that if you have a work permit, you are eligible to apply for a temporary residence permit that is valid until the expiration of your work permit.
If you can find a job with a company that pays enough to offer you a work permit, this is the easiest path to legally living and working in Ukraine. As mentioned though, maintaining residence in Ukraine will be tied to your employer. If something happens and you lose your job, you will have to leave Ukraine.
Another option is to open a limited liability company or LLC and hire yourself as the director. While this will cost more money, it will give you the ability to live and work legally in Ukraine regardless of your employment status. The main benefit is that you can be hired by any Ukrainian company as a contractor and if you lose your job, you won’t be forced to leave the country.
If you’re interested, we have put together a post breaking down the cost of opening an LLC, getting a work permit and a temporary residence permit in Ukraine. We also have a post detailing the process of opening an LLC in Ukraine.
Where to Network in Ukraine
When you start searching for expat jobs in Ukraine, jobs in your home country, or anywhere else for that matter, networking is a vital step. In Ukraine, there are plenty of options available for networking. They range from in-person events to online networking through LinkedIn and other means.
Some of the common options include:
Now, depending on the medium that you use, your approach will be different. For the Chamber of Commerce and the European Business Association, you should attend their events in-person. This means that you should already be in Ukraine. Sometimes you may have to pay, but they are generally well worth the investment. That is if you are willing and able to introduce yourself and meet who’s there.
If you want to network before you arrive in Ukraine, other resources such as LinkedIn and Facebook will be your best bet. There are plenty of job and expat groups on Facebook, and industry and profession-specific groups on Internations and Linkedin.
The idea is to join these groups, see what’s being posted and interact with the community. You never know when someone may be able to help you. This means that it is important to be polite and contribute meaningfully to the community.
How to Find Expat Jobs in Ukraine
Let me start this section by sharing what you shouldn’t do to find expat jobs in Ukraine. You shouldn’t make a fake resume, or blanket spam a generic resume to every single job you see. A lot of online platforms have spam filters, and you’ll quickly be filtered out. This is the fastest way to get zero responses.
The first thing you should do is get a clear idea of what you want to do. Narrow down your career path and industry to one or two that you’d like to target. Once you have a career and industry in mind, hop onto one of the many available job boards in Ukraine. I suggest hh.ua, rabota.ua, or dou.ua for IT-specific careers. The goal here should be to browse the available jobs in your industry to see if they exist and if they exist, decide if the salary is suitable for you.
If the type of job you’re looking for exists, and the salary is acceptable, adapt your resume to make you a standout candidate for this job. Never lie on your resume. The hiring process in Ukraine can be much more intense than in the United States. If they feel like you’re lying, you’ll be out of luck, and potentially blacklisted from entire companies.
Next, tap into your network for leads. This will have the greatest impact on improving your odds of landing a job. The idea here is to have them put you in contact with someone looking for someone like you.
If you haven’t had any luck, all is not lost. Head back over to one of the job boards you scoped out earlier. Make a plan to apply to 5 positions per day. And I mean actually, apply. Research each company on LinkedIn, see if you have any 1st, 2nd, or 3rd connections working at the company and reach out to them. If not, check to see if you have anyone from your university working there. Ideally, you will be able to find someone that can put you forward as a referral. Because again, this increases your odds of receiving a response.
Next, if you don’t find anyone, don’t give up. Try to find a hiring manager at the company. Sometimes it’s listed directly on the position itself, other times you will need to search LinkedIn.
The final and most important aspect is to focus on making your resume and cover letter fit the position as best you can. The automated systems tend to auto-filter out candidates that don’t fit their criteria. So the closer you can make yourself fit the position, the better your odds. Unfortunately, applying to jobs has become a numbers game if you lack connections.
Once you start applying, you will eventually begin to get interviews. The process varies from company to company, but you can expect at least 2-3 rounds of interviews plus a phone screen. In general, the hiring process in Ukraine can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months. It all depends on the company, and how badly they need to fill the position.
To recap, focus on building your network. They will be the most vital piece to finding a quality expat job in Ukraine. Aside from that, leverage your language skills, and knowledge of an international market to best position yourself. Focus on making your resume, and your cover letter highlight why you are the best candidate for the job. Good luck! If you have any questions or want to consult with us, we offer career coaching services.